maandag 19 augustus 2013

Border Affair (1936) / Spanish Is The Loving Tongue (1956)

"Spanish is the Loving Tongue" is a song based on the poem "A Border Affair" written by Charles Badger Clark in 1907. Clark was a cowboy poet who lived throughout the American West, and was named the Poet Laureate of South Dakota in 1937. The poem was set to music in 1925 by Billy Simon.

Poem ("A Border Affair") by Charles Badger Clark, was first printed in Pacific Monthly, June, 1907.

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Following the initial 1907 publication, in 1915 the poem was published in Sun and Saddle Leather

Here's the 1917 edition:

On page 26:

And in 1919 the poem was published in Songs of the Cattle Trail and Cow Camp
Collected by John A Lomax

Here's that edition:

On page 67

And in 1921 the poem was published in Songs of the Cowboys

In this edition "A Border Affair" is credited to the singing of Orville Cox a Taos Cowboy

On page 10

Billy Simon wrote the melody around 1925 about the time he also "fixed up" one for Gail Gardner's "Sierry Petes".
Twenty or thirty years later someone added a bridge, which is how it stands today--a more beautiful song, maybe, but certainly not cowboy style.

Bill Simon, a cowboy singer from Prescott, "spotted Clark's poetic love story and concluded it should make a good song. Bill thereupon composed an engaging melody, and before long, dude ranch entertainers and radio performers throughout the Southwest were singing [it].... Said Bill Simon, who until recently never received any credit in print for his contribution to the music of the West: `I can neither read nor write music. I just somehow worked out "Spanish Is the Lovin' Tongue" as I rode the range, trying to fit the words in a melody I was striving for. After I got it to the point where it suited me, I started singing it around the campfires and it seemed to catch on. One night Dorothy Youmans (sister of composer Vincent Youmans) heard me sing it and was quite taken with it. Later she wrote out the music for me and played it on the piano down at Castle Hot Springs while I sang. Well, it sure sounded good.'"

John I. White writes in Git Along, Little Dogies: Songs and Songmakers of the American West (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1975) that he first heard the song in Wickenburg, Arizona, in 1933. Not knowing where the tune came from, he wrote to Badger Clark for permission to use the song on the network radio program "Death Valley Days," where John sang as "The Lonesome Cowboy," (this text appears on pp. 130-31 in Git Along, Little Dogies).
John noted that Bill Simon recorded his own arrangement of the song for an LP issued in 1972 by the Arizona Friends of Folklore at Northern Arizona U, Cowboy Songs, 2 (AFF 33-2). Bill's tune there differed from the one John wrote down in 1933.

As we see the ORIGINAL poem was called "A Border Affair". It's about a white guy meeting a Mexican girl. In the original poem the reason for his leaving was "she was Mex and I was white". This was changed at some point to the non-politically charged "wanted for a gambling fight".
All the versions following Tex Fletcher's 1936 version omitted the "She was Mex and I was white" line.
I think Bob Miller might be responsible for the omission of that line ( he rewrote the lyrics a bit for his 1934 "Famous Folio Full of Original Cowboy Songs") --SEE FURTHER ON

(o) Tex Fletcher 1936 (as "The Border Affair")

Recorded November 16, 1936
Decca Recording Studio, Pythian Temple, 135 West 70th St., New York City –
Tex Fletcher (Tex Fletcher [vcl/gt])
Matrix 61417
Released on Decca 5300 and Melotone 45011

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Listen here: The Border Affair

Or to a sample here:

(c) Texas Jim Robertson 1941 (as "The Border Affair")
30 June 1941 Victor Studio, New York City – Texas Jim Robertson (Texas Jim Robertson [vcl], Ken Binford [gt], Johnny Cali [gt/banjo], Gene Traxler [bass], Frank Novak [fiddle/clarinet], Jack Shilkret [piano], Chas Magnante [accordion] + vocal quartet)
Matrix BS-066163-1
Released on RCA Victor 27552
Written (?) by Bob Miller and Vasca Suede

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Listen here:

(c) Milt Okun and Ellen Stekert 1956 (as "Spanish Is A Loving Tongue")

Milton Okun - RLP 12-634

Listen to a sample here:

(c) Glenn Yarbrough 1957 (as "Spanish Is A Loving Tongue")

Listen here:

(c) Richard Dyer-Bennett 1958 (as "Spanish Is The Loving Tongue")

(c) Gateway Singers 1959  (as "Spanish Is The Loving Tongue")                                                  

(c) Pete Seeger 1960 (as "Spanish Is The Loving Tongue" (IN A MEDLEY)

Listen here (after 1 minute in the soundfile below)

(c) Chad Mitchell Trio 1963 (as "Adios Mi Corazon")

Listen to a sample here:

(c) Ronnie Gilbert 1963 (as "Spanish Is A Loving Tongue")

Listen here:

(c) Ian & Sylvia 1963 (as "Spanish Is A Loving Tongue")

Listen here:

(c) Limeliters 1963 (as "Spanish Is The Loving Tongue")

Listen to a sample here:

(c) Crew Cuts 1963 (as "Spanish Is A Loving Tongue")

(c) Hootenanny Singers 1964 (with Björn Ulvaeus) (as "Spanish Is The Loving Tongue")

(c) Marianne Faithfull 1965 (as "Spanish Is A Loving Tongue")

Listen here:

(c) Paul Clayton 1965 (as "Spanish Is The Loving Tongue")

(c) Country Gentlemen 1968 (as "Border Incident")

Listen here:

(c) Bob Dylan 1970 (as "Spanish Is The Loving Tongue")

(c) Bob Dylan 1973 (as "Spanish Is The Loving Tongue")

(c) Judy Collins 1976 (as "Spanish Is The Loving Tongue")

(c) Emmylou Harris 1981 (as "Spanish Is A Loving Tongue")

Listen here:

(c) Liam Clancy 1982 (as "Spanish Is The Loving Tongue")

(c) Michael Martin Murphey 1989.

 After a few decades Michael Martin Murphey was the first artist to restore the original lyric-line "she was Mex(ican) and I was white"

Listen here:

(c) The Blackeyed Susans 1991 (as "Spanish Is The Loving Tongue")

In 1990 the Texas Tornadoes sang sort of an answer-record (written by Butch Hancock)

Spanish Is The Loving Tongue BUT "She Never Spoke Spanish To Me":

And to close this topic here's a beautiful version from 2012 by Mason Willams and Deborah Henson-Conant and her Electrical Harp

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